Paljor Dorje Shatra

Prime Minister of Tibet

Paljor Dorje Shatra [dpal 'byor rdo rje bshad sgra] was head of the Shatra family and one of the Lönchens (Chief Ministers) of Tibet. He was born around 1860 into the Shang-ga family, but married into the Shatra family and took the name.

He had a long and eventful career, which began when he accompanied the Chinese Amban to Darjeeling in 1890, staying with him during the progress of the negotiations regarding the Anglo-Chinese-Tibet Convention, for his efforts he was rewarded with the title of Shapé. His rise was halted in 1903, when having been willing to negotiate with the Younghusband expedition he was degraded by the Dalai Lama and sent to his country estate.

In 1908 the Dalai Lama appointed Shatra, Zholkang and Tekang as Lönchens and following the invasion by Chinese troops of Lhasa in 1910 he accompanied the Dalai Lama to India, going with him to meet Lord Minto at Hastings House, Calcutta, and on pilgrimage to sacred places in India.

During his exile in India, he became well-acquainted with Charles Bell and the two developed a strong and affectionate friendship. This friendship flourished when in 1913 -14 Shatra returned to India to act as Tibetan plenipotentiary during the Simla conference, he proved himself to be an adept diplomat and political thinker and as a result he became the most powerful of the Lönchens.

He met Bell on several occassions following the Simla conference, most notably in 1915, during Bell's annual inspection trip of southern Tibet, when he, and subsequently Tsarong, pushed for the buying of arms and ammunitions from the British government for the Tibetan army.

Bell wrote in his book, Portrait of a Dalai Lama, 'Shatra had a large and generous mind, and his wife was a fine woman...Towards the end of his life, Shatra was a lonely figure. He had climbed high, and as usually happens in eastern lands, many people wanted to pull him down. A few years later he died, mainly as a result of his service in the Himalayas...Shortly before his death he wrote me a letter, couched in terms of great affection. In the course of the letter he wrote:
“You are a dear and kind friend of mine and I have full confidence in you. I believe that this friendship is due to your prayers and mine in a former life".'
  • Gender
  • Relationship
  • Nationality
  • Born
  • Place of birth
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Died
    2nd January 1919
  • Place of death
    Asia: Central Asia: Tibet [China]: Ü -Tsang: Lhasa
  • Cause of death
    Unknown or unrecorded
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